The Palazzo Luperti, built in 1620, is one of the many
imposing and historic buildings located in Cagli. The by-now run-down
former home of nobles, which has been vacant for 15 years, is in the process
of being restored and transformed into an office building. Meeting 21st
century standards while preserving the beauty and historical elements
of a 17th century building is not an easy task. Many businesses find it
infeasible to utilize the oversized rooms, which because of landmark-architecture
regulations cannot generally be divided, and do not have the resources
to take on such a demanding project.
The Communita Montana del Catria e Nerone is restoring
the building, which for much of the 20th century was a vocational high
school run by the Roman Catholic Don Orione Institute. The Comunita Montana
is an administrative alliance among Cagli and four other contiguous municipalities
formed to undertake substantial projects beyond the means of any individual
town in the federation.
The agency strives to create a strong community and provides
a number of services to local residents. Forestry, tourism promotion,
social services, garbage collection, tax collection, and deeds are just
a few of its functions. Currently, its offices are scattered all around
the five cities. The organization’s plan is to centralize its offices
in this remodeled and restored former “palace” to cut costs
and to be able to spend more money on improving services.
According to Lucio Guerra, a technical adviser to the
Comunita, the building was originally the dwelling of a family of “middle
class nobles.” The Don Orione boarding school closed during the
1980s and the structure has been boarded up ever since. In the intervening
years, the building, which housed a chapel, was looted for its religious
statues and marble slabs, and it sustained water damage.
Gino Traversini, president of the Comunita Montana, called
the project, “a union between historic recovery and a vision of
Because of the high costs of restoring an oldbuilding,
the repairs will be made phase by phase. Currently, only the first floor
is being worked on. The building has been renovated a number of times
since it was built nearly 400 years ago. The agency is restoring the building
to look much the same as when it was first built. All the “non authentic”
additions that have been built since its original construction will be
One of the challenges that comes with restoring such
an old building is that most of the rooms are not suitable for offices.
The rooms are much larger than what would be the size of an average office.
The size of the first floor of the Don Orione Institute is 600 square
meters. On an average floor of this size, 30 offices would fit, but in
this building only 10 will be available.
In Italy, restrictions placed on restoration of a historic
building are called vinculi. These rules and regulations are meant to
help preserve Italian history. Because of the strict codes, the rooms
on the northern side of the building may not be divided into smaller rooms.
The southern side, which once was a large one-room dormitory, can be divided
into smaller rooms because it does not have the high arched ceilings or
the large frescoes that can be found on the north side, and therefore
does not have the same historical value.
To modernize the building, electrical wiring, plumbing,
Internet, and heating all had to be installed. To keep the building looking
much as it did in the 17th century, the wires and pipes had to be hidden.
To hide them, the floor had to be removed, and the walls had to be broken.
After everything was ripped apart, new tiles were installed, and the walls
Some exceptions are made to the rule of authenticity.
For example, double-paned windows did not exist in 1620, but in the 21st
century, these windows are needed to keep heat in during the winter. The
agency believes being economically efficient is as important as maintaining
the building’s history.
Many of the buildings in Cagli that have been closed
up for several years have water damage. These buildings, as beautiful
as they are, are unattractive to buyers because of the damage and the
cost of repair. In most cases the building cannot be fixed up to be profitable
to a company. Usually, public entities and sometimes banks buy the buildings
because they will be able to use and manage the larger spaces better than
a private company.
For the past 400 years, the only way to get to the first
floor of the Don Orione Institute was to walk up stairs. Local and European
Union laws require that every public building be handicap accessible.
So the agency will be installing a wheelchair elevator as well as a handicap-accessible
The Comunita Montana started to restore the Don Orione
Institute in April 2007. Even with all the challenges, the first floor
should be completed by September. By centralizing services for the five
cities, the agency will be able to reduce its costs and thus will be able
to spend more money on services and save for future projects. By choosing
to reconstruct a piece of Cagli’s history, the agency is providing
a public service and preserving what makes Cagli so beautiful, its history.
Photos by Debbie Schallock
Video by Aziza Jackson
Web Design by Mary C. Schell